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‘Mattress Mack’ reloads on Astros after $4M NCAA Tournament loss

Updated March 27, 2023 - 12:54 pm

The last time Mattress Mack was in Las Vegas, he left with a wheelbarrow full of cash after collecting the bulk of his record $72.6 million in winning wagers on the Astros to win the World Series.

Houston furniture store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale gave back a chunk of his winnings Friday night, when he was back on the Strip for the official grand opening of the Horseshoe Las Vegas.

McIngvale, 72, lost $4.15 million in wagers on Houston when the top-seeded Cougars were eliminated 89-75 by No. 5 Miami. And he wasn’t even able to watch the second half, though that might’ve proved painful.

He already had a total of $4.05 million to win $35.4 million riding on Houston to win the NCAA championship when he placed a $100,000 Texas-Houston money-line parlay at even money Friday afternoon at the Caesars Sportsbook at Paris Las Vegas.

Wearing a red Houston Cougars hat and warmup jacket, McIngvale, arguably the world’s most famous sports bettor, stopped to sign autographs and pose for photos with dozens of people as he made his way from Paris to the Horseshoe before ending his night at Caesars Palace.

He watched the first half of Houston’s game intently at the Paris sportsbook, yelling “Come on Cougs!” as they erased an early 7-2 deficit. He didn’t appear to notice a nearby bettor in an orange Hurricanes shirt who cheered loudly as Miami took a 29-23 lead and yelled in Mack’s direction, “We’re way too athletic for them.”

When Houston made back-to-back 3s to tie the game at 29, Mack clapped his hands quickly and yelled, “Attaboy.”

The Cougars trailed 42-36 at the half, when Mack headed to the Horseshoe for the grand opening event. He said he wasn’t going to keep track of the game in the second half and would just wait for the final score.

“It’s too nerve-wracking,” he said.

While waiting for the event to start at the main entrance of the Horseshoe, a group of women from Houston in town for a 50th birthday celebration saw Mack and screamed. He walked over to greet them and smile for pictures as, unbeknownst to him, the Cougars closed the gap to 51-49.

But that’s as close as they would get.

By the time the ceremony featuring remarks by Jack Binion — whose father Benny Binion opened the original Horseshoe Club in downtown Las Vegas in 1951 — and others concluded and confetti exploded, Miami had opened a 70-53 lead.

Mack said he had no idea what the score was as he headed to Jack Binion’s Steak for a panel discussion with Binion and Poker Hall of Famer Doyle Brunson.

“Did Alabama win?” he asked.

The Crimson Tide also were upset, 71-64, by San Diego State as all four No. 1 seeds failed to reach the Elite Eight.

When the discussion ended, Mack finally checked the score on his cellphone and saw that he’d just lost $4.15 million. But he didn’t flinch and took the loss in stride.

“I kind of resigned myself when the guys (in the crowd) weren’t waving at me that they were losing,” he said. “But they had a great season, and they gave us a lot of thrills. Everybody in Houston loves the Cougars, and we will live to fight another day.

“I’m big on NIL (name, image and likeness licensing for college athletes), and we’re going to do it bigger and better next year.”

McIngvale pledged seven figures this season to the Cougars through his NIL deal and said it was used to pay for families of players to attend the NCAA Tournament.

The bets on Houston were the latest in a series of multimillion-dollar wagers to reduce risk on promotions at his Gallery Furniture stores. In this case, customers who made purchases of $5,000 or more would’ve gotten their money back if the Cougars won it all.

“I have a very short memory. I always have,” he said. “I’m on to the next promotion.”

A few minutes later, he put on an Astros jersey with “Mattress Mack” and the number 22 in gold on the back and headed to Caesars Palace, where he placed $1.9 million in wagers to win $11.4 million on Houston at 6-1 odds to repeat as World Series champion.

His latest promotion offers customers their money back on purchases of $5,000 or more if the Astros win it all.

“This is the golden era of Houston Astros baseball,” he said. “Go ’Stros.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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